ZWJ sequences in UTR #51 v4

Mark Davis ☕️ mark at
Sun Aug 21 10:27:20 CDT 2016

There have been discussions of how an "unmarked" (neutral, ungendered) form
could be represented. Here are just some thoughts.

There are currently three types of gender representation.

   1. Intrinsic (eg, FATHER CHRISTMAS)
   2. <MAN/WOMAN>+ZWJ+<REPRESENTATIVE-OBJECT> (eg, male vs female health
   3. <PERSON-ROLE>+ZWJ+<MALE/FEMALE SIGN> (eg, woman running vs man
   running; female vs male police officer)

For #1, it might be possible to use ⚲ U+26B2 NEUTER (a character similar to
<MALE/FEMALE SIGN>) in a zwj sequence to indicate a neutral form. Where we
have paired forms, there'd need to be a consistent principle as to which to
For #2, as Christoph points out, one could use a neutral base: a smiley, or
perhaps a Unicode 10.0 ADULT emoji.
For #3, the simplest mechanism would probably be to have the unmarked form
be a neutral image. But for backwards compatibility, some might want to
have a specific marker, eg ⚲ U+26B2 NEUTER.

However, any proposal needs to be fully fleshed out, and have a
representative range of clear examples of how graphic designs for the
neutral characters would work. That is, they need to be clearly interpreted
as non-gendered, even at small sizes: an average person, when shown the
design in isolation, would say that the person depicted is of neither or
either gender.

That's easy to do with smiley-styles, but surprising difficult to achieve
with the realistic styles that are used for the other people emoji.


On Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 9:37 AM, zelpa <zelpahd at> wrote:

> On Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 5:00 PM, Marcel Schneider <charupdate at>
> wrote:
>> On Fri, 12 Aug 2016 17:44:10 +1000, zelpa wrote:
>> > Some of the ZWJ sequences in the latest revision seem sort of
>> arbitrary, why is
>> > male health worker Man + Staff of Asclepius instead of introducing a
>> Doctor emoji
>> > and simply using the female of male modifiers? The current proposition
>> also
>> > doesn't seem to allow for a gender-neutral doctor(?)
>> As far as I know, the category “health worker” is more general than
>> “doctor”,
>> as it includes many professionals who are not physicians.
>> Not surprisingly, the Consortiumʼs choice of encoding the MALE HEALTH
>> WORKER emoji
>> as a MAN associated with a STAFF OF AESCULAPIUS seems to me plain
>> accurate.
>> Marcel
> MALE HEALTH WORKER was just an example, any of the ZWJ sequences that
> follow the PROFESSION ZWJ GENDER can be left gender neutral simply by
> leaving out the gender(At least in theory, god knows what vendors would
> actually choose to show) the sequences that follow the pattern PERSON ZWJ
> OBJECT can only be male or female in the current proposition. Of course
> health worker is more general than doctor, shouldn't have used that word.
> My point was it's currently not possible to show a gender-neutral health
> worker, student, farmer, teacher, judge, cook, mechanic, factory worker,
> office worker, scientist, etc. using the current proposition. Kind of seems
> backwards to force people to either pick female or male when using these
> sequences.
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